40

Time waits for no man and I am, unfortunately, not exempt. I turned forty a couple of days ago and I do feel somehow that I have broken through to the other side of something and I have spent a while scratching my head wondering what it was – and it’s simple, really: I have slipped quietly – like a car parked at the side of a lake without it’s handbrake on – into middle age.

It is a cliché, but I don’t feel 40 (well, physically I do: my knees ain’t what they used to be and when I smile my face crinkles up like Yoda…). I still like to occasionally get really drunk (though hangovers get worse with age), I still get excited like a kid about holidays and I still play Xbox – though I get constantly humiliated online by habitually swearing 12 year olds. In my mind I am about 28 or so but then I catch a glimpse of myself reflected in a shop window or something and I think: who the fuck is that? 

So, I have been mulling it over and here is what I am most worried about:

Viewing Habits I am concerned that I will start to veer towards watching Heartbeat or Antiques Roadshow without a sense of irony and use nostalgia as a kind of middle-age comfort blanket. I bloody hate anything with a period setting, I don’t mind watching a film from the ’40’s or ’50’s – when they were shot – but the idea of watching something set in the ’40’s or the 18th century makes me want to eat a shoe.

And Antiques Roadshow is just a fly-on-the-wall pawn shop documentary, showing desperate inherit-ees hoping to liquidate Granddad’s old writing desk so they can buy a newer, flat-pack writing desk made out of particle board and formica. Anyway, if anyone catches me watching Heartbeat, Antiques Roadshow or The Midsommer Feckin’ Murders then shoot me in the face with a nail gun.

Fashion People my age are out of the marketing loop for clothes. Gap are more interested in people in their late twenties as they are probably without kids and have loads of disposable cash, so the billboards are full of smug looking blokes wrapped in scarves (yeah, try that with young kids and you’ll get bloody strangled) looking like they haven’t a care in the world. Which they haven’t. Ahh, I can picture their life: all glass coffee tables (try that now and I’d be in A&E with my kids before you can say Casualty), the weekend papers (like I have a block of time to read, what is effectively, 4 novels of reading material), watching the rugby at the weekend with a few sneaky beers (not in a month of sundays), your smug Gap scarf tossed around your neck (strangulation) as you browse bookstores (5yr old and a 3yr old in a bookstore? I might as well get a job there, the amount of books I’d be replacing on shelves) and maybe stop for a coffee (for 3.36 minutes or as long as it takes for them to suck a carton of orange juice in one go) and check your email on your iPad (Daddy? Can I play Angry Birds? Please? Pretty Please? Please, Daddy?).

American Apparrel would rather burn down their stores than let me in.

So, I suppose I am reduced to the biggest pants shop in the world: M&S. The problem is, when I wander around their stores I get depressed – it’s all greys and browns as if people of a certain age go colour blind or lose the will to live.

This is why, I think, so many people shop in Cotswold Outdoor or somewhere similar because outdoor clothing shops are ageless – in fact, they positively encourage all ages to buy bright coloured clothing  (mainly so your body can be recovered when you have a heart attack climbing a mountain) and charge up a mountain.

Only Talking to people my own age When you’re young you only find people the same age as you – or slightly older – interesting to talk to. When you get older you realise that learning anything off your peer group is a deluded fallacy and you need to talk to people not only in your age group but much older people and much younger people – or you will learn nothing. So, I am worried that all I am ever going to talk about is investments, the weather, how expensive washing powder is and the MPG of my car. When what I really want to talk about is how to beat a Red Dead Redemption, hack a VPN so I can watch iPlayer (sorted, thanks SeeKew) or anything else that is not in the above catagories…

So, that’s that. I am now 40.

I had a superb birthday party, with nearly all the people that I love, by the lake perfectly organised by my wonderful and long suffering wife. I did look around and realised that the last time I saw this bunch together was on my wedding day and I wondered when I would see the same set of people in a group again. It made me a bit sad, but so happy that I really do have a really nice bunch of mates that I am sure will remain with me for the rest of my life.

Oh, and sorry my post count has taken a hit, I am just very time poor at the moment.

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14 thoughts on “40

  1. I can associate with pretty much all of that. I’m only a spry 36 but my knees sound 20 years older. I now find myself chuckling at My Family and fancying the arse off the older daughter with the kid. And I definitely see myself as in my mid-to-late 20’s…

  2. Happy birthday! I got married recently – which means I now have my 40th birthday to look forward to for the next big party. Depressing. But on the flip side, at least I can still buy clothes from GAP. If I could afford them that is -with a young child in tow I find myself stealing my sister’s clothes and mainly shopping in Primark. I look forward to the days when Cotswold Outdoors can consider me a regular customer.

    1. Congratulations! Weddings are, I think, more of an excuse for a great party than anything else. Yeah, we all like a big white dress and a cake but we enjoy spending time with the people that we love and getting drunk. That’s pretty much what we did on our wedding…

      Anyway, the only great thing about turning 40 is that everyone has more money so you get really great presents.

  3. Hehehe great read as usual — and happy belated birthday! It all comes down to the people we surround ourselves with, and it sounds like you’ve got a good bunch there (not to mention the wife and kids). 🙂

    Here’s to another fantastic year, drabby fashion choices, wrinkles, and sad TV choices be damned. 😉

    Drive on,
    – M.

  4. From an older or even elder point of view, 40 has always been great, to the extent where for us, truly middle-aged (still?), 60 is the new 40 : it is obviously no more about expectations, but about setting into practice the great ideas and opportunities the previous decade put our way. Further, in the parenting sector, a page gets turned, small children are not so small, they sleep, they eat, they go to school, they not only learn a whole new set of skills, they also remind us of ancient knowledge we had forgotten as well as teaching us new stuff which didn’t exist in our time. Small pleasures not to be sniffed at. Hooray! I truly enjoyed my 40s and certainly NEVER felt middle aged. I wish you all that and more, mrshev.

  5. A belated happy birthday. Your 40th must have been very close to my 41st (Sept 4th). A year on from 40, the only thing that has really changed for me over the past couple of years is a greater awareness of my mortality – in the context of wanting to enjoy playing with my two young boys and my ongoing battle to keep myself healthy enough not to be affected too much by my diabetes (diagnosed 18 months ago).

    I guess I’m also gradually accepting that I’m not really down with the kids any more. I’ve clung on to popular music and culture like an anchor for several years, but the fact is I’m now nearly twice as old as the fresh-faced graduates who join my company every year, and I am now just one of those un-hip old dudes I always swore I would never become.

    The fact is I don’t care. I’m not 21 any more, my life is pretty good and there are hopefully many good years ahead: Alzheimer’s, incontinence, uncontrollable drooling …

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